So Much Eye Candy: Cool Mini or Not at Gen Con 2012

While I didn’t get to see Cool Mini or Not at Adepticon 2013, I certainly saw CMON back at Gen Con in 2012.

Every time I stopped by the stretching Cool Mini or Not booth areas at Gen Con, I found a very packed, interested gaming crowd taking in all of the eye candy CMON had on display. Alongside Privateer Press, CMON seemed to have a tremendously successful Gen Con. Attendees new to miniature gaming could be excused for thinking that they were seeing multiple companies’ booths, but the unifying connection in every one of CMON’s 18 booth areas was the high quality and stunning visual displays.

CMON’s Display and Demo Boards

While the Wrath of Kings’ demo boards CMON had brought were functional and better than a simple flocked board, they were not as spectacular as some of their other offerings, but did put the focus squarely on the expressive sculpts of the miniatures. Players had the opportunity to battle as the thin warriors of House Nasier or the porcine warriors of House Teknes.

Piglike Teknes miniatures for Wrath of Kings battle against thin Nasier on desert demo board

Wrath of Kings Desert Demo Board: House Teknes vs. House Nasier

Realistic 28mm scale orange lava flowing over miniature terrain board for Confrontation at 2012 Gen Con

Confrontation Lava Demo Board

Cool Mini or Not kept Confrontation fans’ appetites whetted with a lava demo board of the game. I could have easily missed further Confrontation offerings because there really was so much to take in throughout CMON’s booth space.

There were also demo tables for players to try out Sedition Wars, Relic Knights, and Zombicide, but aside from the two Dark Age boards and Rum and Bones, the most impressive tables were reserved specifically for display purposes.

The Wrath of Kings Display Board

What a sight! The Wrath of Kings Castle was the definition of amazing and probably the envy of rival gaming companies. Designed and built by Rob Hawkins, the table took over 200 hours from start to finish. The Goritsi forces spilling out of the grey stonework buildings really put it over the top. The Goritsi definitely have a darkness to them and are comprised of the lupine Skorza, the female Blood Dancers, and would seem to be led by the red-clad Herald of Blood. Bearing such close resemblance to Confrontation’s Wolfen, the Skorza pose an interesting problem for brand recognition and differentiation, but since they are now released by the same company, the similarities should not matter. The Goritsi also boast the monstrous Ucuzo, which looks like a lab experiment gone awry (or perhaps deliberately concocted).

Pig warriors Union Workers miniatures from Wrath of Kings battle Skorza lupines and monster Ucuzo

A Monstruous Ucuzo Defends the Goritsi City Against the Invading Teknes

Arrayed against the onslaught of the Goritsi are the pig warriors of House Teknes. The rank and file of Teknes appear to be the Teknes Union Workers who wield massive swords. The Ironward is the figure reminiscent of Mad Max’s Master Blaster with a slave-driver on top of a pig warrior/Union Worker.

Beautiful stunning diorama of 32mm Wrath of Kings miniatures clashing at a castle or village

Woodland Scenics Armatures Used as Dead Trees in the Foreground of Hawkins’ Stunning Diorama

In his blog, Rob Hawkins refers to the diorama as a Goritsi City and details its construction in five blog entries, beginning with constructing the hillside foundation followed by the the construction of the buildings’ basic shapes. To enable faster gluing using super glues Hawkins uses Liquid Nails to coat the pink foam in the same way that latex paint is used to protect styrofoam from destructive aerosol spray paint.

Tentacled octopus Zalaak miniatures battles slender female Blood Dancers in Wrath of Kings diorama

Two Tentacled Zalaak Face Off Against Blood Dancers In and Near a Foamcore Building

The city’s buildings are constructed out of pink foam with thick art board used for the roof tiles. Hawkins estimates that over 1,000 separate roof tiles are on the diorama! The one detail that has puzzled me about the diorama since Gen Con is the seemingly unfinished black and white area. This is, in fact, an elemental’s head with white circles for eyes.

Wrath of Kings miniatures fight over a superb Goritsi city at Gen Con 2012 in front of stone buildings with red tiled roofs

The Black Cylinder and Dome is an Elemental’s Head! With White Eyes

Super Dungeon Explore: Von Drakk Manor

Soda Pop Miniatures Chibi Super Dungeon Explore miniatures display castle at Cool Mini or Not Booth

Super Details from Rob Hawkins: Von Drakk Manor

Von Drakk Manor was easily in the Top 5 of all terrain pieces throughout Gen Con for sheer quality and artistry. It also highlighted the expansion forces to CMON’s joint venture with Soda Pop Miniatures. The castle is just as stylized as Soda Pop’s distinctive, chibi figures and was also built by terrain genius Rob Hawkins. He has many more pictures of the stunning layout on his website. The fiery monsters were from the Caverns of Roxor expansion that CMON/Soda Pop released in limited quantities to Gen Con attendees, before they went on sale to the public in October.

Three Cartoonish Dungeon Explorer Miniatures in Cool Mini's Super Dungeon Explore castle with fire elementals at gen con 2012

Von Drakk Manor Plays Home to Caverns of Roxor Denizens at Gen Con 2012

Ron and Bones – Rum and Bones

CMON was also previewing another of its newly-acquired licenses, Rum and Bones. Originally titled Ron and Bones by TaleofWar, the game is a pirate-themed miniatures skirmish game with highly stylized figures. In a booth filled with so many other goodies, the pirate ship did stand out for its quality construction. Little has subsequently been said about Rum and Bones (that I have seen), though Table Top Hell is impressed by the game’s miniatures.

Gorgeous miniature 28mm pirate ship for Rum and Bones at Gen Con 2012 in the Cool Mini or Not Booth

Rum & Bones: Skirmish Pirate Game, Palm Trees from Pegasus Hobbies

From all that I could see of Rum and Bones, each model is a unique personality. The character Teruk’te wears a Sharkskin and will appeal to any gamer who has ever wanted a miniature that wears an entire shark as a costume! Tale of War Miniatures still has information in English available on the game including a downloadable PDF that explains the game’s mechanics, as well as displays the entire range of finely detailed miniatures.

Inside a miniature pirate ship for Ron and Bones at Cool Mini or Not booth at Gen Con with cannons

The View Below Decks Of the Pirate Ship’s Impressive Armament

One of the neater things about the Rum and Bones demo table is that it has been carefully constructed to match the miniatures’ base size and prevent them from slipping or sliding out of position.

Top down view of miniature model pirate ship for skirmish wargame Rum and Bones at Gen Con 2012

The Savage Teruk’te Alongside Pier Del Mocho in Aft Castle High Above the Sloot Gunner

Dark Age Industrial Shop Board

One of CMON’s original brands is Dark Age, of course. Even though I had seen them at the GAMA Trade Show, I still marveled over both of the Dark Age demo boards. Having played on the board with the rock outcroppings, most of my attention was taken by the industrial garage board. The details really bring the board to life with rigging over the top, bike chains used as industrial belts, vats of liquid, and multiple elevations to play on.

Post-Apocalyptic futuristic miniature game Dark Age industrial garage terrain at Gen Con 2012

Did I mention the working lighting? By varying the textures on the board, it creates depth and detail and adds a sense of realism. The diamond-plating used on some of the floor panels is particularly effective. It really does look like a place the mutant Skarrd would have taken over or would be in the process of raiding.

Closer look at industrial garage Dark Age demo board for miniatures at Gen Con 2012

Marie-Claude Bourbonnais as Rin Farrah from Relic Knights

Another attraction in the CMON booths was cosplayer and glamor model Marie-Claude Bourbonnais from Canada as Rin Farrah, one of the chief protagonists of Relic Knights. Bourbonnais posed for pictures with fans and gamers in her self-made costume and later explained that it was her first time attending Gen Con, let alone any tabletop gaming convention. For Bourbonnais it was different than comic and anime conventions, but still “a lot of fun” and reminded her of her high school’s tabletop games organization. At Gen Con Bourbonnais only appeared as Rin Farrah, but she has cosplayed as another Relic Knights character, Candy, in the past. As of early October (2012) she still had yet to play Relic Knights herself, but looked forward to receiving her complete game to try it for herself, but did say that she has watched demos of the game.

Busty Cosplayer Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at Gen Con playing Rin Farrah with miniature her costume is based on

Two Versions of Relic Knights’ Rin Farrah: Cosplay and Miniature

Watching others game is nothing new to Bourbonnais who spent part of her teenage years watching friends paint armies and play Warhammer 40k. While she never got into the hobby herself, for Relic Knights Bourbonnais will be playing Rin Farrah’s faction. Usually though she is quite busy working on her next costume. As a former fashion designer, she’s been sewing costumes and prom dresses since she was 19. Rin Farrah’s leather outfit was a first for Bourbonnais, who makes all of her costumes and props herself.

Yellow tinted glasses and yellow and black spandex on busty Hornet played by Marie-Claude Bourbonnais at Gen Con 2012

MC Bourbonnais as Canadian Superheroine Hornet

On Thursday Marie-Claude Bourbonnais initially appeared as the black-and-yellow spandex-clad Hornet, her character in the Canadian web-series Heroes of the North. Filmed in Bourbonnais’ home city of Montreal, the series is in English, available to view for free online, and follows the adventures of Canadian superheroes. The character of Hornet only appears at the tail end of the first season of the series, but becomes more prominent in its second season, says Bourbonnais. While she came to Gen Con to promote Relic Knights, another company specializing in 3D body scans had also contacted Bourbonnais about capturing her 3D image in the Hornet costume.

Blonde busty anime woman in green swimsuit on Pool location for card game Tentacle BentoBourbonnais also has the distinction of having modeled for a card in Soda Pop Miniatures’ Tentacle Bento card game and has subsequently cosplayed as that character, essentially doing a cosplay of herself. Bourbonnais was also the basis for one of two promotional pewter miniatures in support of Tentacle Bento’s abortive Kickstarter run.

And the Display Cases

Gamers could have also easily missed all of the wonderfully painted miniatures packed into the glass display cases at the back of the Cool Mini or Not booth areas given all there was to see elsewhere. Here and there though gamers’ faces pressed up against the glass that stretched yard after yard. Sedition Wars, Dark Age, Relic Knights, Wrath of Kings, and Confrontation all vied for visitors’ attention, but were safely locked away, like heroin just out of reach of a junkie. There may have been little puddles of drool on the carpet. As one would expect from the home of cool miniatures on the internet, almost every miniature was beautifully painted. The exceptions were the gray master sculpts on display in the cases.

Anime-influenced miniatures for the Relic Knights game with power familiars on display at the 2012 Gen Con

Anime-Infused Miniatures from Relic Knights with Chibi Power Familiars

On top of the display cases though, within reach of any eager gamer was the impressive winged form of the Titan Dragon for Confrontation. Fashioned out of resin, the figure is a true status symbol among miniature gamers with a hefty price tag of $300.

Red, black, grey, and white massive Titan Dragon miniature for Confrontation at Gen Con 2012

The Massive Titan Dragon for Confrontation Lives Up To Its Name: Free from a Display Case

Ravage Magazine

Cover of Ravage Issue 7 Advertising Zombicide Toxic City MallWhile I would have liked to browse CMON’s wares a bit more, all I really had to time to do was to pick up the first three issues of Ravage Magazine. Ravage is an import, translated from French, and plays off of the gorgeous artwork CMON and its affiliates have access to. Like Harbinger Magazine of the early 2000s but with a much stronger visual focus and appeal, Ravage focuses on a wide range of miniatures with Cool Mini’s lines featuring prominently, but there have also been articles on MERCS, Infinity, Privateer Press, and even a look at 6th Edition Warhammer 40k. There are some translation artifacts in the articles that vary from interviews with designers, to game overviews, to painting and terrain tutorials, but despite the language difficulties, the magazine is off to a very strong start and is now in April on Issue 7.

Gen Con – Privateer Press Dominates, CMON Releases, MBA, and Brushfire

Gen Con. Indianapolis. Two days into the “Best 4 Days in Gaming” and so far I have to agree with the slogan. This is exactly what I have been dreaming about since I first read about Gen Con in Dragon Magazine back in 1990. The Indianapolis Convention Center is VAST. It is a confusing labyrinth of large halls and I only finished exploring them all at 3:30 on Friday morning.

28mm train on tracks on beautiful table layout from Privateer Press at Gen Con

One of Privateer’s Inspiring Tables

Gamers were up late into the night Wednesday and early into the morning playing in all the public places of the downtown convention center area. Mostly they played board games with some CCG/TCG action, but I did spot a game of Warmachine unfolding in one of the hall spaces. Thursday morning was a different story with dozens of games of Warmachine popping up on some of Privateer Press’s wonderful playing tables. While many sported grass gaming mats, there were at least five or six fully-detailed tables festooned with rivets and steamworks. Friday morning at 2:00 AM the action was still going on. In fact, Privateer Press has the distinction of having the largest miniatures presence here at Gen Con, running 64 tables with 128 players playing at a time. From 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM Friday morning, Hordes and Warmachines players were vying for a spot at the Nationals in the Iron Arena tournament. A similar tournament will run tonight as well.

Gaining early admittance at 9:00 AM on Thursday to the Vendors’ Hall which opened to the public at 10:00, I was surprised to see a line already wrapping around Privateer Press’s booth as Gen Con’s VIGs (Very Important Guests) queued up, PP products in hand. Elsewhere gamers’ interests were harder to measure as the thin crowd trickled this way and that. At 10:00 AM, of course, a flood of gamers rushed in, with Privateer Press selling out of its new 2d6 version of its Iron Kingdoms RPG on Thursday.

Cool Mini or Not

Miniature castle from Cool Mini or Not's miniatures booth

Amazing Wrath of Kings Castle Table from CMON

One place they flocked to was Cool Mini or Not’s impressive 18-booth floor space. CMON is exhibiting two games developed with Sodapop Miniatures, Super Dungeon Explore and Relic Knights. CMON was also showing off some new figures for Dark Age as well as sculpts and demos for Confrontation: Age of Ragnarok amd Wrath of Kings. CMON’s booth space also included a whole host of basing products, tutorial DVDs, and the first three issues of of the miniature gaming magazine “Ravage”.

Zombicide

Cool Mini or Not also had Zombicide, released publicly at Gen Con for $90 after a successful $780,000+ Kickstarter funding run. Looking the plastic miniatures over, they do come pretty close to the resin prototypes I saw back in March at the GAMA Trade Show and with 70 of them, the game packs in a lot of value. Elsewhere in CMON’s stretching booth space Mike McVey was promoting Sedition Wars.

Boxes stacked head high at Cool Mini or Not's Gen Con Booth of Zombicide

Zombicide Making a Killing at the Cool Mini or Not Booth

Four players at Gen Con enjoying the zombie horror board game Zombicide

David Bullard and Friends Enjoying Some Zombicide

Late Thursday night or early Friday morning I encountered some Zombicide fans playing the zombie horror game at a table in a convention hallway. David Bullard of Mount Vernon, Illinois had pledged $100 towards the Zombicide Kickstarter campaign and received the game days before Gen Con. Nevertheless he had already played it four times when I met him, saying that he was “quite pleased” with the game, enjoying both the mechanics and the miniatures. Bullard’s friends were also enthusiastic about Zombicide and its merits, so it would seem that Guillotine Games and CMON have a definite winner.

Miniature Building Authority

Miniature 28mm town with barracks and castle walls at Gen Con from Miniature Building Authority

Miniature Building Authority 25-28mm European City

If you’ve read many of my posts, it should be no surprise that I went to check out Dwarven Forge’s line of prepainted terrain as well as Miniature Building Authority’s prepainted buildings. I had seen several Youtube videos featuring MBA’s whole collection at Gen Con before, but this year, their European 28mm Town seemed to be brimming over with hundreds of miniatures from over a hundred different miniature companies according to Kirk Stevens.

Kirk introduces some of their newer products on camera and sculptor Jim Elmore also talks about MBA’s impressive product line.

On the Lamb: Brushfire Miniatures and Historia Rodentia

I also saw a familiar face in the form of Emily Fontaine from On the Lamb Games. Their line of anthropomorphic Brushfire historical miniatures has been expanding since the GAMA Trade Show. She had several new miniatures to show off along with her concept artist, including figures specifically for Historia Rodentia, the RPG setting published by Mongoose Publishing.

CoolMiniorNot’s Kevin Clark Talks Wrath of Kings, Relic Knights, Zombiecide, Confrontation Phoenix, and More

Relic Knights miniatures including Noh as seen at the GAMA Trade Show

Relic Knights: Noh Looming

CG: Kevin Clark, you’re basically the brand manager for…
KC: I’m the brand manager for Wrath of Kings and I’m also one of the two developers for Relic Knights.
CG: Which is most exciting to you right now?
KC: Uh… that’s a real tough question. I did the work on Relic Knights first, so I’m really excited to see it finally make it out into the marketplace, but Wrath of Kings, I think, is going to be a great launch this year. I genuinely think it’s going to be one of the biggest things to hit this year.
CG: And which will be available at Gen Con?
KC: Both.
CG: And Zombiecide?
KC: Zombiecide is a game we’re publishing through a partner, Guillotine Games. We’re doing the publishing work for them and the distribution. It’s a zombie board game, super strong, comes with about 70 models in it, and playable 1-6 players. It takes about 45 minutes, good board game, good solid product.
CG: You guys have gone from Dark Age, really one product that I’m aware of, besides the website, and now suddenly exploding with a lot of other ones, right?
KC: Last year Super Dungeon Explore was really kind of an experiment for us to see if the publishing model was something that the industry would really take to and Super Dungeon Explore was so successful that it really just made sense to keep looking at stuff and we reached out to some other partners that we had, that we had other pre-existing relationships with, and you know, looked at some new properties that they wanted to get done and here we are. We are showing off five new games that are all launching this year in August and September.

CG: Super Dungeon Explore seemed to have a high price point to get into the game. What does it retail for?
KC: When the game comes back out it’ll be $100 for the starter box, when it comes back in stock.
CG: You guys came from Dark Age where it was thirty or forty dollars for a starter set back in the day.
KC: Way back in the day, yeah. They’re forty to sixty now, depending on the model count in the box. They’re also very different products. Super Dungeon Explore you’re looking at a full contained board game with an abundance of miniatures. I think there’s 65 models, no 50, 50 models in that box. Sorry, too many numbers in my head, that you get for that $100 price point. All the tiles, all the counters, you know, the whole thing, so it’s a very different type of product than a miniatures game, a pure miniatures game, as opposed to a board game with miniatures.
CG: What is similar? Wrath of Kings is more along the lines of Dark Age?
KC: Wrath of Kings is just a miniatures game. It’s going to be a full-on miniatures property. We’re looking at the average game size out of the gate is going to be 30 models. That’s what we think the sweet spot is right now. You can play with as many as 50. The game doesn’t use points. It uses a force org chart, so you know we have a little bit of creative control over what the scope of the book is designed to handle.

Wrath of Kings

Teknes from Wrath of Kings miniatures game character art.

Teknes image courtesy CoolMiniorNot

CG: What would you describe the IP behind it as?
CG: Wrath of Kings is a brand new IP. It is a fantasy setting, a little bit of steampunk element, a little bit of horror element, you know some things like werewolves, vampires, that kind of stuff, but it’s very bright, high magic, but very human-centric. Whilst if you look at the models, it looks like there’s a bunch of different kind of critters, most of those are humans that have been modified somehow, in some way, shape, or form for Wrath of Kings. I think the setting is really bearing out to be very real and gritty, but not overly dark and horrible, which I think seems to be sort of the trend right now, that all of the big miniatures properties are all kind of grim and fueled by anger, if you will. We’re trying to make something that’s a little more grounded, more foundational, and intriguing. All the feedback that I’ve gotten on the writing so far has told me that we’re in the right place. We’re making something that’s new. We have our own place in the marketplace, so I’m pretty excited to see how it does.
CG: How long has this been in production?
KC: We started the development work a year ago, for just the development. The setting itself has been in development about that long. The art assets and the sort of the creative direction, the foundational elements of the setting have been in production a little bit longer.

Sniper overlooks the Relic Knights demo board at the GAMA Trade Show.

Relic Knights Demo Board

CG: Has Infinity been at all an influence?
KC: Not for Wrath of Kings. I think Relic Knights, we definitely we looked at Infinity, as something else that’s in the marketplace that we want to be in and we wanted it not to overlap with that. We didn’t want to make a game that’s just a clone. As a developer I like to come up with new ideas; I don’t want to copy somebody else’s stuff. Anybody can do that. You can’t help it, right? There’s a certain point where you will duplicate, right? But we try to be as unique as we can. We try to be as creative as we can and me and the guys over at Blackball Games worked really hard to know what’s out there and to make something that’s unique and different and that really fits the setting that we’re building the game for.

Relic Knights

Rolo the Cypher on CMON's demo board for Relic Knights at the GAMA Trade Show.

Relic Knights: Rolo the Cipher

CG: Now what’s this little creature?
KC: That model is… what’s his name? I can’t remember his name, but he’s a cipher.
CG: Rolo.
KC: Rolo, that’s his name! I can’t believe I forgot his name. He’s an awesome little dog with a pith helmet. How do you go wrong? The ciphers in Relic Knights are kind of a little power conduit. In the setting, the knight characters, so the guys in the big mechs or the Questing Knights, who haven’t found their big robots yet, are all kind of avatars of the different expressions of the universe. And their ciphers are sort of 50 percent direct guidance from the universe, 50 percent their subconscious, So they’re expressed in a way that they’ll attach to them, so you know, Suicide Queen has her dog with his pith helmet, Super Punky Dog. Malia, the racing chick has her cute little happy bunny, and so on, they kind of go down the line.
CG: Possibly changing topic, have you found yourself cast as a character or a miniature?
KC: I don’t think that I have been put into anything that I can think of, but I don’t know that I’d make a good-looking model haha.
CG: Some figures we can recognize who that is based on.
KC: There’s definitely some people who have gotten models made, I mean, Dark Age, there’s guys who have won the opportunity, right? To do stuff like that. Most of the stuff I have worked with has been concepted well before I ever got involved or just didn’t want to make a typical gamer nerd model haha.

Beautiful Dark Age demo board from GAMA Trade Show 2012.

CMON’s Dark Age Demo Board

CG: Now what do you play in Dark Age yourself?
KC: I have an Outcast force that I play and I just started building a Saint Luke force because St. Luke is amazing. That model is so cool. I had to build a force, so I started in on that just last week actually.

CG: And then what about the other offerings? Obviously Zombiecide is all-inclusive in one box, but what do you play for the other games, like Relic Knights?
KC: Relic Knights is a tough chocie for me. I really like Black Diamond, but everybody likes Black Diamond, so I try not to play the thing that everyone’s playing. I’m probably going to end up playing the Shattered Sword with Sebastian Cross, the big giant robot dude and the other knights. They’re sort of the paladin faction.

CG: What’s this tortoise army?
KC: That is the expansion for Super Dungeon Explore that will be coming out later this year. That’s some preview models for it.
CG: Bad guys?
KC: Yeah, some of the new minions.

CG: How did you get involved in the gaming hobby?
KC: In this company?
CG: Just in general.
KC: I’ve been working on the backside of the industry for about 10 years now. I started working up in retail stores when Wizards of the Coast opened retail stores. I’d just gotten out of high school. I went to work in one of those for a few years. During the beginning of the Pokemon craze and all that stuff. And some years later, when Privateer Press was starting, their warehouse was just down the street from where I was living. They needed help, so I got a gig with them and worked for them for 7 and a half years and did all that stuff and have since started working with CMON doing my own development stuff and kind of a lot of the same things I did before.
CG: Have you remained up in the Pacific Northwest or did you go down to Georgia?
KC: Still the Pacific Northwest. I work remotely from the warehouse property.
CG: Skype?
KC: Yeah, I live on Skype all day long.

Goritis Artwork for Wrath of Kings from CoolMiniorNot

Goritis image courtesy of CoolMiniorNot

CG: What is really cool about Wrath of Kings?
KC: God, I’m not even sure where to start! I think that the game has a lot of room to grow and that’s the thing as a developer that’s really intriguing to me that we really, really build a strong foundation for a property that can last a long time and that can still maintain relevance and interest without getting diluted or sort of losing its focus in the marketplace. The models as you can see are phenomenal. There’s so much life and character. The pig soldiers, you look at every single one of those faces, they’re gorgeous. There is so much life to the things. Even just the simple swordsmen are so cool. I love every single one of these pieces. We had been working in development for a long time and I got my first set of the resin masters showed up at my house a little while back and I was so happy. I just immediately started cleaning them and putting them together. Like stopped everything else I was doing, because I just needed to build them, because they were so cool. I’m still happy to have them in hand. It’s kind of like the beginning of it being done and real. It’s been super exciting. I think the game mechanic is really clean. I think it’s very unique and fast and awesome. Makes for very dynamic gameplay with very little complexity. Lots of variation, lots of opportunity to do a lot of things. So I like good tactical game play, but still not so tactical if somebody becomes slightly more competent than you, you become incapable of playing it. I shoot for a good middle ground.

Confronation Phoenix

CG: Then you also have the re-release of Confrontation.
KC: It’s going to be using the 3.5 rule set, well a derivative of the 3.5 rule set. We’re going to clean it up and make some adjustments and sort of refine and polish it, but other than that, we have all of the masters. We’re sorting through them right now. We’re going to push out the releases as fast as we can to sort of get the existing concept out as quick as we can and then our intention is to move forward with it. Also our intention is to never move it into more than a skirmish game setting and Confrontation is a great skirmish game. I think it demonstrated very aptly that it doesn’t make for a good mass combat game. History has kind of shown us that. So we’re going to make it good at what it does. One of the first factions coming out will of course be the Wolfen, so you can expect to see those coming soon.
CG: Will there be organized play for it?
KC: Absolutely. The CoolMiniorNot Legion program, which is our volunteer program for all the products we publish, is absolutely going to support all these things. We’ll have organized play, tournament kits, all that stuff is in the pipe.
CG: What about players who bought the plastic figures-
KC: The pre-painted plastics?
CG: Yes. Obviously they could just remove them from their base and put them on an actual square base, right? And play. Do you think, at this point, they’re going to be allowed to play with those in organized play?
KC: I don’t see why not. I don’t think we’ve gotten to that point of building this stuff, but I really… They’re Confrontation models. I mean if you’ve got them, then play with them. We want to see people playing. That’s kind of the point.

No Solid Plans for Terrain, More Properties in Development

CG: And is there anything in the works in terms of terrain for any of the products?
KC: I don’t think that we have any actual terrain, terrain products right now that we’re working on or that any of our partners are working on at the moment. I know that we’re looking at a couple of opportunities that we were pursuing, but I don’t know if those are going to pan out this year or at all. I know in Wrath of Kings terrain is a tactical part of gameplay. So we’ve discussed building stuff for that, but we’re more interested in getting the game out at the moment than building accessories for it! So there’s a lot of really good terrain manufacturers out there. Some really good people who make some really good stuff.
CG: So you have actually have so much to promote-
KC: So much!
CG: Is it safe to say that there’s not too much in development right now in terms of new properties you’re going to focus on?
KC: Not safe to say that at all. We have a whole list of things that we’re vaguely looking at or starting to plan out for next year and future releases. And obviously many of these things are going to have releases coming out next year as well. So we’re onward and upward. Go big or go home. Haha.
CG: Do you think you can support full lines for several, at least 3 or 4 games? [5 or more actually.]
KC: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m a hundred percent confident that we can manage the workload that we built.
CG: And you came from Privateer Press-
KC: I did.
CG: Where that was also your experience. They had rapid growth pains.
KC: Absolutely. It’s inevitable, that’s just the way it works, right? There is one thing that kills companies faster than anything else and it’s success and the inability to handle it. And you know Privateer worked really hard to get through that. I was there through the heyday and I can tell you we worked really hard to get through that! And I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do it again. Honestly it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but I think it’s really rewarding, especially in this industry, you know, where you meet so many of your own consumers and you work so close with so many people that it’s really rewarding that you build something that people really enjoy and that people really get into. That’s honestly fifty percent of the satisfaction for me, just building something that people really like and I really enjoy doing that, so I don’t mind putting in the labor to get it done.
CG: Do you still play Hordes or Warmachine?
KC: I barely have the time to play the games I’m working on right now! Haha, but I haven’t played a game of Warmachine in a while.

How Employees Refer to CoolMini, Licensing

Abigail image courtesy of CMON

CG: What do you guys call CoolMini?
KC: How do you mean?
CG: Do you refer to it as CoolMini or CMON (see-mon)?
KC: I tend to call it CMON, just cause it’s easier, faster than saying CoolMiniorNot. Everytime I tell my email address to somebody I have to spell it out haha!
CG: Has CoolMini for any of these properties started licensing them to comics creators or anyone else?
KC: Most of the properties, most of the things we own, some of it’s things we own. Dark Age obviously is our property. Wrath of Kings is our property, but a lot of it is stuff that we’re partnered with other companies. Soda Pop Miniatures, for example, does all of their own development and stuff. So we make the miniatures, we produce the games, we do that side of it, but we don’t own the rights to it, so if they were going to do something like that, that’d be on them to get done. Zombiecide is again someone we partnered with [Guillotine Games]. Confrontation we have access to, but I don’t know if we have the license rights to do like, that kind of stuff with it, but it’s something we could pursue with the license holder if we wanted to. So it’s something we look at for the properties we do have, control over that kind of thing. I don’t think it’s anything we’re opposed to, for sure. Anything people want really. We’re in the business of making people happy, so whatever’s going to make people happy is kind of what we’re going to do, you know?

Clear plastic resin sculpts of the miniatures Hailkin for the Dragyri from Dark Ages Games.

Image courtesy of CoolMiniorNot

CG: Real quick: top 3 favorite scultpts from CMON.
KC: I really really like the new Core robot. All I can think of is the new stuff and they’re conveniently right on the shelf. Like I said earlier I just started a Luke force, because the figure is so gorgeous. That’s probably one of my top three easily right now. I love the new Hail Kin, the clear ones, they’re frickin’ awesome. Those three are probably my favorite sculpts right now. The new Abigail sculpt that just came out, the Abigail CMON exclusive model, steampunk chick with a rifle was awesome. I really like that model. I got to name that model, so I feel good about that!
CG: Great. Thanks!
KC: No problem.

Dark Age – The Game Itself

Dark Age is hands down my favorite miniature war gaming system. Most of it boils down to Dark Age’s rules, though there are parts of the concepts and the actual miniatures themselves that I find appealing as well. That said, I have not played a game of Dark Age Apocalypse yet.

Rules to Die For

Alternating Activations

Both Warhammer and Warhammer 40k feature turn-based combat. I move all of my units, my units enter the Magic Phase and/or Shooting Phase, until finally you, the opponent, might get to make some choices in the Assault phase. Some units change this. Yes, you “get” to make Armor Saves, assuming you are able to. Maybe you will test for Leadership during your opponents’ Shooting Phase. Likewise in Warmachine there are now a number of units that activate in your opponent’s activation, but you can still spend a whole lot of time during your opponent’s turn watching and waiting. In both companies’ systems, who goes first in each turn is also static. ABABABABABAB.

Against this backdrop games like Dark Age, Confrontation, Star Wars Minis, and AT-43 mix things up with you and your opponent alternating activations by units. Who is going to go first this round? In Dark Age, you roll Initiative (similar to Star Wars Miniature Battle). Low roll gets to decide WHICH unit on the board will activate. You can pick your own or your opponent’s. This adds another tactical element to play. After your opponent activates a unit, you activate a unit, until one of you runs out. Your unactivated forces can react with their Action Points as the battle unfolds.

Action Points

As equally important as Alternating Activations, each model is assigned a number of Action Points. How you use those AP is up to you. If all you want to do is move forward, spend all 3 or 4 AP to do so. Have a ranged weapon and no RF (Rate of Fire) number restricting your choice, fine, spend all your AP shooting away. Likewise with melee combat. This is done on a model by model basis as well. One member of your unit can spend 2 AP advancing and then Charge (more about Charging below) and spend his remaining AP fighting the enemy. The second member of your unit can spend his AP shooting at the enemy. The third can charge up and attack and so on. It is true a skirmish level game in this sense.

With Action Points there is none of this nonsense of your squad shooting at a nonexistant target blown away seconds ago or being forced to charge thin air.

Action Choices

The variety of actions you can perform in Dark Age with your figure’s Action Points advance the game considerably. You can Go Prone, dropping to the floor to protect yourself against ranged attacks and then slowly move forward. You can Climb up the sides of cliffs and builds. Want to make an Aimed shot with your malfunctioning hand cannon? Spend an AP and go for it.

Charges and Ganging Up

When you Charge you get a bonus AP. You might spend 2 AP getting a model near enough to charge. Your third AP you spend resolving the Charge with a +1 modifier to your Attack Skill and the Power of your Attack. THEN you get a whole bonus AP. If you wipe your opponent with the initial charge, feel free to Charge his unfortunate ally a couple of centimeters away! Then you get another bonus AP.

Ganging Up is a great way to take down hard targets. For most units in the game, for each ally engaged in melee, you get a +1 to both Attack Skill and +1 to Power, which is cumulative. If you have 3 allies in combat with an Ice Elemental and you charge, you have a +3/+3 from Ganging Up and a +1/+1 from Charging. Better hope that attack stops him cold. Unfortunately puns are not a way of life in Samaria. So with Ganging Up even the lowly Dragyri Slaves serve a purpose.

Attack Resolution

The last aspect of Dark Age’s rules that I like is how attacks get resolved. Model’s have an Attack Skill with whatever weapon or weapons they have. An AS of 10 is brilliant, but many have numbers closer to 5 or 6. You add any modifiers to your AS as well as your target’s DF (Defense). DF is a mixture of size and agility. While there are a few surprising DF’s in the game, models that look like ninjas and anorexic Uma Thurmans typically have DFs around 2. Big lumbering giants with names like Ice Elemental (8), Abomination (8), Warhead (6), and Raze (8) and support or caster types have high DFs. The result of all of your addition is the number you need to roll EQUAL OR LESS than on your d20 to hit them, with 1s being Critical Successes and 20s being Critical Failures and sometimes causing Malfunctions.

So you’ve hit your opponent. Now your opponent take the Power of your weapon, with any bonuses from Ganging Up or Charging or other abilities. He or she subtracts that from the target’s Armor and your opponent tries to roll lower under that target to make his Armor check. The actual game uses different terms for some of this, but it is a great way of representing certain things in the game. This roll also can have a Critical Success or a Critical Failure. Rolling 20 on your Armor means you take an additional point of damage with a 1 negating the attack entirely. Some abilities can change this, but that is the essence of Dark Age and attacks.

Fluff, Game and World Concept, Models

I am largely indifferent to the world of Samaria, where the action of Dark Age unfolds. There are some neat premises built into the world, but I would happily play Dark Age with a more advanced setting or a medieval one. It does cater to that small part of me that enjoys Mad Max (and even Waterworld) and other post-apocalyptic settings such as the world of Fallout.

On the other hand, I’m not at all indifferent about Brom’s artwork. The game is based on it. I first noticed Brom’s stuff back with Dark Sun and some Dragon Magazine covers. He is easily in my Top 5 fantasy artists. I love the skin tones on his figures, as well as his mixture of chunkiness with frailty. Anything Brom-derived is pretty awesome in the game. The rest of the artwork is hit or miss.

The artwork translates into the miniatures. Concepts designed by Brom usually result in great sculpts. Nathaniel and Orchid are both great models and I think someone else drew them. In its infancy the game was also comparatively cheap, just as Warmachine was. You could play a lot of small games for $40-50.

Dark Age Saint Mark Warband

I wrote this based off of Dark Age Genesis. I have not played Dark Age Apocalypse yet, so the modern version of Saint Mark and his warband may be very different. All miniatures painted by the incredible punkrabbit.

Saint Mark: Everyone Must Stand Alone

Forsaken Saint Mark without a Mask
My Dark Age faction of choice is Forsaken and my saint of choice is Saint Mark. No other faction leader touches me so deeply and in such a strong way. In fact, Saint Mark is putting on false modesty to be called a saint. His weapon has it right: God’s Light. My Saint Mark Warband won me the Players’ Appreciation Tournament at CONquest Vegas in 2008. Saint Mark has an incredibly deep range of 80cm with God’s Light and if anyone gets up in his face he has both his Cutter Arm and his Armor of 22 to save him. He also needs that Armor 22 for when God’s Light Malfunctions. I make sure to risk that second Mal of 16. To me, if Saint Mark is not taking two shots each round something is really wrong. Or the game is about to end.

I have both versions of the figure and prefer the masked version. Others in his force match him this way and it is just a better sculpt. His unmasked self looks a little inhuman and if you read his fluff, you know he’s very human.
The back of Saint Mark Without a Mask
And with a nickname of “Saint Coward”, how can Craven Games not love him? While his troops know that he surpasses Saint John, Saint Mary, and Saint Theresa in his holiness, his (defeated) opponents like to call him names after he has incinerated them with God’s Light from across the table.

His Blessed Lieutenants

Warwind aka Ninja aka CommanderThe Warwind miniature

After Saint Mark, the next commander figure I look for in any list is a Warwind. There’s a trend here: uber models with high point costs and 4 AP each. The Warwind has decent Armor 18 and the very low 2 Defense. That and Furious Charge; Never Panic; Never Fear; Tough as Nails. Saint Mark can’t say the same. Saint Mark might run away. Your Warwind is going to try to stick around with his 2 HP. The ranged weapon, Brimstone, has its uses, but I want that Furious Charge bonus and I want the two katana attacks from Weapon Group 1. Because the cape on the original Warwind is so crazy, I use the second sculpt.

Weaponsmith

The Weaponsmith model for Dark Age
Saint Mark’s fluff mentions Weaponsmiths several times. I’ve used Saint Mark without a Weaponsmith numerous times, so a Weaponsmith is not really essential. I view him as some icing on the cake. I would never take him if there were nothing to use Superior Maintenance on though. This ability which allows him to place counters on figures at the start of the game is very useful. Typically I place one on Saint Mark, one on another invidividual, and then one on the Weaponsmith as well. Yeah, he can use it because he uses God’s Wrath Rifle, the distant cousin of God’s Light. It’s only Power 6, but you get three shots with it per AP since it is RF -. Plus its Range is 40. The sculpt of the figure is alright, but ranks towards the bottom of Forsake sculpts. The cactus on his base comes from an Imex set, I believe.

Field Medic

I prefer my Field Medic to the Sister of Compassion but oftentimes end up taking both. They both have healing effects, but I would rather not Numb my troops and lower their abilities but instead tell them “Hang in there boys!” and “It’s just a flesh wound!” She is incredibly useful, has 2 HP and 4 AP. I try to keep her well positioned. Her scalpel weapon is a joke. Her other abilities are not.

Her figure’s face was too ovoid. It reminds me of Jocasta from Marvel Comics so I asked punkrabbit to give her a spiked face mask like Saint Mark’s and he did a wonderful job. The cactus is from an Imex set, if I remember correctly with green-stuffed base.

Sister of CompassionThe frontside of a Forsaken Sister of Compassion

This figure gets a lot of attention because of her thong-like leotard. She gets a lot of play from me because she is almost as useful as her more properly-clad cousin, the Field Medic. Her Needle Fist is actually a competent attack as she has AS 5 with it and its Power 6 with a Range of 30 and causes Numb.

Her base is Epicast, her look Lady Gaga.

Nathaniel & Orchid

Dark Age models and brother and sister Nathaniel and OrchidThis pair is pretty characterful. I almost always field them in larger games. AP 4 figures are always useful. I feel that they tend to get in combat a lot less than my Warwind, despite having Furious Charge and Superior Ganging Up. They have the same Defense of 2 of a Warwind. Nathaniel’s AS of 9 with his Claymore is damn useful. He tends to die first though, leaving his sister to amass more kills.

The Dark Age miniatures model OrchidI love Orchid’s sculpt, but they both are pretty dynamic and are rocking the spiked helmet look I so admire. I based them on 25mm bases so I could use them in games of 28mm Inquisitor or asInquisitorial henchmen in games of 40k. Their cloaks are painted the same sky blue as St. John’s, because they are also usable with his warband.

Bounty HuntressA female Bounty Hunter

I hate this figure. She looks so out of place in the junk and refuse filled world of Samaria. She doesn’t match the artwork and is pretty lame. However I think punkrabbit did a great job with her. As much as I don’t care for the model, I have used her in a number of games. Oftentimes she gets that third Superior Maintenance counter because her Ranged attack has an RN of 40 and she’s AS 7 with it with a RF of 2. With her 4 AP she gets 2 Aimed shots a turn with it. Now we’re cooking. Tracking is so so. Yes, it has an effect, but it never is game-changing for me.

DedlockThe dual pistol wielding Dedlock miniature

I may have used my Dedlock once. The figure is incredibly cool. She probably has been purchased by a lot of miniature fans who will never play Dark Age. The problem is that she has a high Points Value of 86 and for that you get a close up Banger-style weapon. Her ranged AS of 7 makes me want to take a second look about including her in my forces again. Spray and Pray however does not. I probably would be using Saint Mark and the Weaponsmith both with longer Ranges. She is mid-range and not incredible in hand to hand. Defense of 2 is, again, wonderful. If I knew my opponent was fielding Skarrd, I’d probably test her out again.

And His Righteous Troops

Banes

A Bane Leader miniatureHe may not have that special tender relationship that Saint John has with them, but Saint Mark (under my command) repeatedly makes use of his Banes. Banes have a respectable Armor 18 and are AS 6 with their Double Maces which get two attacks in Attack Group 1. They have no ranged combat, but the Maces which are only Power 4 cause KP(8). Their saving grace is probably that double attack. Once the whole unit starts attacking another unit, things are going down, and going down fast. This is probably true of many other factions’ main attack units, but with the exception of a few games as Dragyri, I haven’t played as other factions.

Strike

Two Dark Age Forsaken Strike models painted black
My Strike have seen almost as much play time as my Banes. They are ninjas, both in sculpt, and in stats. You pay for it too, at 75 points for the leader and 70 for the “basic” troop. These are essentially a unit of Forsaken characters with AP 4 Mv 4 and 2 HP. They also have that Warwind ninja 2 Defense. Where they really start to shine is up close with the enemy, which is where you want them with their Furious Charge. Facing lightly armored infantry? Go with the dual Spiked Gauntlets attacks. The PW is 2×2. If both attacks hit, which is at AS 6 for the basic Strike, your opponent is making 4 Armor saves. That’s them starting to shine. They flare up on your opponents’ big brutes with their other Attack Group: 2 Handed Sword. The leader has 9 AS with it! The trooper 8. Don’t forget Furious Charge bonuses or ganging up when it probably hits for its 6×2 PW. I count on the Strike to take out Dragyri elites, Ice Arbiters, Ice Elementals, Raze, Golabs, and other big meanies. They do not disappoint. With Armor 14, they also go down pretty quick, but I did introduce you to the Field Medic, yes?

These models are cool and I have them on 25mm bases to use as auxiillary Death Cult Assassins.

Firestorm

Given my preference for 4 AP models with 2+ HP, my Firestorm have seen very little use.Two Forsaken models That and they go KABOOM. I can see their usefulness if I was certain to face Brood (with Cauterize on their Flame Throwers), but I find them to be too much of a liability for my liking.

I think I asked punkrabbit to paint them as though wearing jumpsuits and I think the effect turned out pretty good.

Ravages

Two Ravages miniatures from Dark Age GamesI like how Ravages look like Banes, especially how punkrabbit painted mine. In games I have used them more than Firestorm, but only to test them out and as points filler and how expensive they are as points filler! For 82 or 77 points I can get something much better. Also I confess that I always get fuzzy about Indirect ranged attacks and that BL(4) and BL(2) are just so teeny tiny as to not be worth it in my book.

All the Rest

I have a Reaver. She’s so slight of build and prone to damage that she needs a real life Field Medic to look her over. I have a Shade that’s not seen any progress in years, despite loving the sculpt. The Junker has interesting stats, but I think she suffers from ease of extreme damage on the miniature.The Coils! Where are your Coils?! Yes, Saint Mark can Take Charge (Coils), but I don’t care for most of their sculpts. The concept behind them is cool enough, but the execution is not to my liking. This one that is painted is based on an Epicast base. I like how extremely forward I put it. Where is her coil weapon, the disc shooter? They are just oddly done.

For the Forsaken though and especially Saint Mark I am a completionist and will eventually get all of their models.

2008 Players Appreciation Tournament Winning List

Saint Mark
Warwind
Weaponsmith
Field Medic
Bane Leader with Banes (4)
Nathaniel & Orchid